September 10, 2010 marked the opening day of Brouwer’s Cafe’s 2010 Hopfest. This was the fifth installment of Seattle’ festival of hops. We like it a lot – so we put in a full day.
Our preview was well-read, but unfortunately, several of the beers showcased alluded most of the crowd. Moylans Wet Hopsickle and Green Flash Palate Wrecker never seemed to hit the taps at Brouwers, while Black Raven’s Dry-Hopped Trickster and Wisdom Seeker, and Russian River’s Blind Pig, each ran out fairly quickly.
But, most of you were able to get a taste of much of our Top 5 beers, stated below. For this year’s festival – the diamonds were in the rough.
For our tasting experience, we took on a table of 4 people. Two Beer Blotter writers, Amateur Hour’s Erik Baldwin and a nice rotating seat of various friends who found the time to join us over the course of our 7 hour day. As time went on, we had a few extra people. So, some rounds include more beers than others.
We took to 10 total rounds of hop madness, pitting different types of beer against each other. We went rare, we went unknown, and we went frighteningly strange (here’s looking at you Elysian Idiot Sauvin). After 10 rounds, we think we found the beers you need to seek out and try. Want to know something great? Washington brewers showed up; they showed up strong.
So, here is our 10 round excursion and Top 5. Enjoy:
Round 1: Russian River Blind Pig, Black Raven Wisdom Seeker, Iron Horse Chinook Cask
Timperial: It had been quite a while since I last tried Blind Pig, and my memories of it were only so-so. Since there are a lot of respected beer folk out there that are incredibly fond of it, I figured I better get a refresher. It’s still boring. Ok, not really, but it’s not nearly as good as Pliny, and that’s where I’ll leave it. The Iron Horse cask was a little too yeasty to be truly enjoyed in all of it’s glory. Wisdom Seeker was the number one beer to get on my Guide to Hopfest. Our waiter didn’t even get a word out before I ordered it. It is, without a doubt, in my top 5 Imperial IPAs of all time. Perfect hop profile with a sizable dose of malty sweetness. A balanced imperial IPA is no easy task, and local heroes Black Raven made it happen.
Winner: Black Raven Wisdom Seeker
Round 2: Firestone Walker Union Jack Firkin, More Wisdom Seeker, Snipes Hopped Up
Timperial: Union Jack is an amazing IPA, simply one of the best around. There was no way that I’d miss out on sampling it in firkin form. Sadly, I much prefer the standard issue. It seemed that the gravity pour depleted the hop essence that is normally so perfectly crafted. Sometimes when you shoot, you miss. Beer Blotter has a serious love affair with Snipes lately. We were really excited to try Hopped Up, but I found it to have some off flavors. This is a very rare case with Snipes. In reviewing my notes from the event, I had noted that Hopped Up tasted like peperoni. I shit you not, I wrote that! Take it for what it’s worth.
Winner: Black Raven Wisdom Seeker (again)
Round 3: Mikkeller Trifecta – Single Hop Centennial, Chinook and Cascade.
Timperial: This little triple threat was high on my to-do list for the day, and I was very happy to have two close friends in my midst to share with. I honestly thought that they were all excellent. I remember saying “God I love Mikkeller!” several times while sampling. I, personally, was most fond of the Chinook, which was the one that I thought I would like least (not sure why, I love piney notes in my IPAs). I think it actually had the least traditional IPA qualities to it, which is probably why the rest of the group did actually like it least. I’ll never be surprised when I stand alone with my overly-sweet and malty IPAs.
Winner: Mikkeller Centennial Single Hop
Round 4: Georgetown Lucille Cask, Elysian Idiot Sauvin & Black Raven Dry Hopped Trickster
Timperial: Lucille is a great IPA and the cask version was no exception. I found it to have pronounced notes of resin and earth that may have just been illuminated with the warmth of the bar top cask. Idiot Sauvin allowed me to pop my Nelson Sauvin hop cherry with style. It was very unique and enjoyable. Ultimately, the grapefruit bomb that was set off in my mouth with each sip of DH Trickster made it the best in round for me.
Winner: Black Raven Dry Hopped Trickster
Round 5: Midnight Sun XXX Black Double, Midnight Sun Hop Dog Wheat, Stone Dry Hopped Ruination & Big Time Action Jackson
DSR: This is where it starts to get a bit blurry in Timperial memory bank – so I am taking over. This was an exciting round as we finally decided to into the Midnight Sun collection. Midnight Sun has become one of our favorite brewers, ever since beginning to ship beer to Seattle in the past year. They do so many inventive, off-the-cuff beers. The best part – they are always delicious. Again, they didn’t fail with either of the two beers served during this round.
The Hop Dog Wheat was extremely refreshing, with a smooth malt complexity that was inviting this late in the day. XXX was the top choice of our good friend Erik Baldwin (Amateur Hour). XXX is a monster of hops with a delicious roasty flavor. We all liked it – but it wasn’t spectacular. It took the title in an otherwise weak round. Stone’s dry hopped Ruination tasted exactly like Ruination out of the bottle. Big Time’s Action Jackson lacked serious flavor.
Winner: Midnight Sun XXX Black Double
Round 6: Two Beers Fresh Hop, Full Sail Lupulin, Dogfish Head Burton Baton, Russian River Pliny the Elder and HUB Ace of Spades
DSR: More people show up – more beers to try. Two of the more famous Imperial IPAs are selected – Pliny the Elder and Ace of Spaces. Pliny experiences endless acclaim from West Coast beer drinkers. HUB’s big IPA fared incredibly well last year at this same event. That was the launching pad for HUB’s popularity in the region. Over the past few months, HUB has penetrated the Seattle market and we see it often.
We tried HUB’s Ace of Spades back in July, at Saraveza’s IPA Fest. That time, it failed to impress. We held out hope that it was just bad luck with a bad batch and tried it in Round 6. Again,. it failed to impress anyone at our table. Most people felt it was just another IPA.
The one that did impress: Dogfish Head’s Burton Baton. The Baton has been around for awhile and many have probably tried it – if you haven’t buy it tonight! This beer is a huge IPA, aged in oak barrels. The beer is actually part Imperial IPA and part Old Ale, blended and stored on wood. Everyone enjoyed this beer, especially wood fanatics, who thought it had just the right amount of woody flavor. Hands down, the victor.
Winner: Dogfish Head Burton Baton
Round 7: Boundary Bay Imperial IPA, Avery Maharaja, Walking Man Homo Erectus, Ninkasi Maiden Shade & Double Mountain Molten Lava
DSR: Round 7 and 8 were the “ok, its time to get these beers” rounds. With a nice group of 6 at the table, we were able to expand our orders and clean up the rest of the list. Some old favorites made it into this round, as Boundary Bay, Avery and Walking Man Imperials were ordered. Hopefully, many of you have had a chance to try Maiden Shade. Its a peculiar, but undeniably refreshing, beer.
In this round, we had division among the people. The Beer Blotter contingent has a widely known obsession with Boundary Bay’s Imperial IPA. On most occasions, I will admit that this is my favorite Imperial IPA to drink. It simply never disappoints. On this occasion, its the same old greatness we have come to expect. The only problem is that my palate has become shot. Now, it takes twice the flavor to curl my brow. Luckily, Boundary Bay continues to offer a dense flavor punch in the mouth, with one of the best malt to hop balances on the market. There is no doubt that this will be the BB.com selection.
But, we must acknowledge the group-think mentality that we had hoped to espouse. The crowd was overwhelmingly in favor of Walking Man’s Homo Erectus. Having just visited the brewery with many of the people at the table, it made sense that there was some positive support for the Stevenson, Washington brewer. Walking Man makes some of the best beer in the State of Washington; it is undeniably the best rated Washington brewery on RateBeer.com. We agree that Walking Man’s Imperial IPA is a damn good beer, but it lacks the punch that Boundary Bay routinely packs. Regardless, we give the people what they want and a tie results.
Winner: Walking Man Homo Erectus (crowd) & Boundary Bay Imperial IPA (Beer Blotter)
Round 8: Midnight Sun Meltdown, Skagit Bourbon Barrel Reverend, Southern Tier Unearthly, Naked City Ace in Hole, Stone 14th Anniversary & Port Brewing 4th Anniversary
DSR: Well now, Round 8 is here. I can barely tell that we have tried almost 30 hoppy beers. This round is probably the most widely anticipated. For the people who hadn’t yet tried Port Brewing’s Anniversary or Southern Tier’s Unearthly, it was a momentous occasion. For those who were interested in the two intriguing Washington IPAs, there were goosebumps.
Port Brewing made this Anniversary Ale for its 4th year in business. We first had it back at 5 Guys, Burgers and Fries, which was held during Seattle Beer Week. The beer is everything that you have come to expect from Port Brewing: viciously pungent, densely lupulined, and incredibly sweet. We cannot say no. Unearthly is a lesson in fermentation cessation. The beer is purposely crafted to leave a lot of residual sugar, which nicely complements the high alpha oil content of its hops. The problem is that the Oak-Aged version is so amazingly incredible that it overshadows its un-oaked version. Because of that, this beer wasn’t too much to talk about.
We were very excited to try Naked City’s Ace in the Hole, a fresh hop made with Sorachi Ace hops. Sorachi Ace is a Japanese varietal, but it is now grown down in Prosser, Washington. This beer had almost no malt, allowing the aromatic hops to dominate the sip. We give it a thumbs up. Unfortunately, it had to perform next to Skagit River’s Bourbon Barrel Reverend EB IPA. At this juncture in the night, a bourbon washed IPA was exactly what the doctor ordered! The beer had a rich malt complexity to match the tartness of the bourbon barrel. Everyone at the table was intrigued, and the BB.com people were floored. We love this beer and encourage you all to seek it out. Nice work from the guys in Mt. Vernon.
Winner: Skagit River Bourbon Barrel Reverend EB
Round 9: Silver City Whoopass, Big Sky Imperial IPA, Left Hand Twin Sisters & Port Townsend Dry Hopped Imperial IPA
DSR: Round 9 has an impressive guest list. These are all very big IPAs, packed with booze and lots of flavor. While we typically love to drink Whoopass, it failed to turn heads at the table. The same was true of Big Sky’s Imperial. Not much to it.
The other two beers were quite the opposite. Left Hand’s Twin Sisters is packed with Sorachi Ace and a bevy of other typically bitter hops. I was surprised when I checked the hop bill, which Left Hand provides for all its consumers on its site (we love it when brewers do that – kudos to LH). Twin Sisters has a light spice due to the rye malt and bitter hops, which was a nice juxtaposition with the utterly profound fruitiness of our next beer. At 9.6%, its toasty.
Port Townsend: thank you for showing up. Over the past few years, we have watched Port Townsend grow into a more diverse, more risky and more delicious brewery. Their IPAs had lacked at tastings in the past, but the last few visits to the brewery, and showings like this, suggest that they belong near the top of WA brewers. Port Townsend’s Dry Hopped Imp. IPA was incredible. The fruitiness was something unmatched by any other beer at the table. We tasted grapefruit, tangerine, mango and melon. Mixing that with a mild malt base allowed the hop oils to burst in your mouth. Every person at the table was impressed. We confirmed this the following day (see below).
Winner: Port Townsend Dry Hopped Imperial IPA
Round 10: The Re-Run – Port Townsend Imperial IPA, Port Brewing Anniversary & Skagit River Bourbon Barrel Reverend.
Round 10 came on a second day visit to Brouwers to try some of the favorites. This trip included a new party who had trust problems over our Skagit and Port Townsend selections. We wanted to make sure we were not making a “tipsy” choice.
Well, we stuck with our guns. Our new guest thought that Port Brewing’s Anniversary could not be beaten – she was wrong. Port could not withstand the incredible flavors offered by Skagit and Port Townsend. The two local grogs floored our new guest and our selections were vindicated.
Winner: Skagit River Bourbon Barrel Reverend EB (Again.)
The Beer Blotter Top 5:
- Black Raven Wisdom Seeker
- Dogfish Head Burton Baton
- Skagit River Bourbon Barrel Reverend EB
- Port Townsend Dry Hopped Imperial IPA
- Boundary Bay Imperial IPA / Mikkeller Centennial Single Hop
Honorable Mentions: Midnight Sun XXX (voted #1 by Amateur Hour), Left Hand Twin Sisters, Port Brewing Anniversary and Walking Man Homo Erectus.
We did our best to keep you apprised of what was on tap, what we drank and how we liked it – all via our Twitter account. You can check out Twitter search #hopfest2010 for info from several people. The battle ensued for a full 10 rounds, with friends picking up the slack as the day wore on. We plan on putting together a full review of the event tomorrow, as a way of providing feedback on some of the hits and misses that are floating around in IPA land at your local bar.
Today, Brouwers put up the official results. Not surprisingly, Black Raven‘s Wisdom Seeker took top honors and Russian River‘s Blind Pig (which has a ridiculously strange following amongst beer writers in Seattle) took second. Boundary Bay and Avery Brewing tied for third for their Imperial IPA submissions.
Well, we cannot argue with those picks – the people have spoken. But, our Top 5 is a bit different. Local studs Skagit River and Port Townsend put out two of the most sexy beers served at the festival. Skagit’s Bourbon Barrel Reverend defied notions of classic IPA taste – much to our delight. Port Townsend’s fruit monster Imperial IPA was an absolute can’t miss. If you have a chance to grab either of these (they might still be on at Brouwers), do it immediately.
More tomorrow. Leave your comments below. We love hearing from the masses.
Thats right. You heard it here first. Today will live infamous amongst the various musings of beer writers in the Northwest. For today is……Hopfest.
Brouwers Cafe and Bottleworks both throw down today in the hoppiest way possible: by showcasing almost 70 hoppy masterpieces at their two locations. The festivities start at each location at 11:00 AM and will run until they throw you out. Both places promise to have hoppy ales on tap all through the weekend – until the keg runs dry.
Word to the wise: Bottleworks is out there lurking in the bushes. They have 9 taps now and will fill growlers. As a testament to their greatness and as a pseudo-means of crowd control, expect them to put up some pretty incredible IPAs today. Perhaps some you have never seen in Washington before.
We’ll pour out a lil hop juice (not too much) for our out of town homies, Kendall & Kim Jones, who are embarking on an epic trip to Great American Beer Fest. Follow their twitter stream to find out the amazing places that they are visiting.
See you there. Come by and tell us what you think of the beer – we really want to know what you like!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Brouwer’s is the best beer bar that I have ever been to in America, and believe me, I’ve been to quite a few good ones. There is a lot of reasons for my confidence in that stance, but one of the larger ones is the fests that they host. Yes, there is a decent number of bars in the country that host barleywine fests, and probably even more that organize IPA fests. It seems pretty doubtful that there would be many that put on sour beer festivals or stout festivals, but I’m sure there are a hand full out there. But, the question is, how many bars in America do all of those, and do them so well that beer nerds like myself take off of work to attend them? I’d say that the answer is probably very, very few. I love pretty much everything about Brouwer’s and HopFest is surely no exception.
So you know that I love Brouwer’s, you know that I love HopFest, you know that I will be there at the moment the doors open, and you know that I will imbibe many an IBU packed brew, but one more question need be answered: what will I be drinking? That’s where the guide comes in.
First, check out the full list that we posted on the 1st. After much consideration, I have developed a game plan. Granted, there is going to be a few additions and most likely, a few exciting surprises come Friday. If these surprises include Russian River Pliny the Younger or Firestone Walker Double Jack, you are going to want to forget the entire remainder of this article and just drink those until the kegs kick.
Top 10 beers to try:
10.) Russian River Blind Pig – I hear more and more people say “Pliny isn’t even their best IPA” in reference to Blind Pig. I personally don’t agree, but everything that Russian River makes is good…damn good. Blind Pig shows up in Seattle from time to time but I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a decent contingent of folks out there that haven’t gotten a hold of it yet. Here is your chance.
9.) Black Raven Dry Hopped Trickster – My boss at Lazy Boy always gives me shit for my blog claiming that Black Raven is the best brewery in WA. I’m sure he will also give me shit for not putting our Imperial IPA on this list (sorry boss, I feel a little weird self promoting. It is a damn good beer though.) Well, we stand by our claim about BRB. The people spoke over at The Bev when they voted it in as the house IPA. This brew is super solid in it’s regular form, I can only guess that the dry hopped version will be even better. If you have cheated and looked down at number 1 already, you have seen another reason why we are confident in our claim.
8.) Elysian Idiot Sauvin – I honestly don’t know what this beer is. That is precisely why I want to try it. Elysian and experimentation go hand in hand, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this one had some peculiar adjuncts added. No matter what, Elysian makes great beer and this will likely be worth your money.
7.) Midnight Sun XXX Black Double – When Cascadian Dark Ales, or CDAs took over the craft beer world a little while back, we all knew that it was just a matter of time before the Imperial black IPAs would show up. Well here it is, and I must say, I’m intrigued. I’m even more intrigued knowing that Midnight Sun is behind it.
6.) Boundary Bay Imperial – There are two Imperial IPAs produced in WA that are head and shoulders above all the rest. This is one of them. This is a beer that, if it were distributed with greater reach, would bring some much needed respect to Washington state in the beer war for state supremacy. This is one of the very few beers that, if I hear that it is on tap somewhere close by, I will do all in my power to make it there immediately to get a pint.
5.)Hub Ace of Spades – I have only had this beer once before and it was at last year’s HopFest. I can’t believe that that was a year ago, I remember it so well. It was probably my favorite “new” beer (new to me) of the event. As it turns out, it was voted the second best beer of the fest behind Pliny the Younger. Now that Hub is distributing bottles in WA it may be easier to acquire this one, but I will still be ordering one and bathing in it’s brilliance.
4.) Mikkeller Single Hop – This is actually three beers in one (Cascade, Centennial, and Chinook), sorry to cheat. You probably don’t have to try all three, but it sure would make a fun experiment. I absolutely love the concept of single hop beers and I love Mikkeller for making this series happen. As a fledgling brewer I feel that spending time with these brews will help me gain a better understanding and appreciation for various hop varietals and their impact on scent and flavor. You can sometimes find these brews in 12oz bottles around town , but they are often over $6 a piece. I don’t think I have ever seen them on draft – this is pretty special and definitely a good opportunity to taste them for, potential, a little bit less dough.
3.) Moylans Wet Hopsickle – Hopsickle is a triple IPA and it’s huge. When you add the word “wet” before it, it means that fresh hops were used. I’m getting emotional just thinking about the potential that this beer has to be mind-blowing. God damn, I can’t believe it’s fresh hop season already! Yet another reason why living in the Northwest is spectacular.
2.) Green Flash Palate Wrecker – Green Flash is masterful when it comes to hops. Their West Coast IPA and Imperial IPA are both among the best made in America. Like the Elysian above, I don’t really know what this beer is, but I know I need to have it.
1.) Black Raven Wisdom Seeker – This beer walks around town with a hype attached to it that is so massive and heavy that I’m amazed it can even stand on it’s own two feet, but boy does it ever. When this beer hits a handle in the Seattle area, there is an instant buzz, and 20 minutes later (or less) she is out the door…gone…kicked. Black Raven has clearly taken cues from other perennial buzz junkies (like Pliny the Younger) in seemingly stunting production and causing such a skewed supply and demand curve that on the rare occasion that is it available, people freak out to get a taste. It would be silly of me to suggest that anything different will happen at HopFest. This should go very fast so get there early and order 2 at once.
On September 10th, 2010 all Seattle area hop-heads will be beckoned by a hop-symbol that will be projected into the sky above Fremont. We will prepare our drinking costumes under the cover of our cave-like enclave, hidden from sight. We will strap on the beer utility belt and fire up the hop-mobile. Off to Brouwer’s Cafe to fight off thirst and grapple with IBU monsters well above the century mark. It will be an epic day.
That’s right, Hopfest is just around the corner, and the preliminary list has finally been posted on Brouwer’s blog. I’ve attached the list below, which will most likely grow a bit more in the days leading up to the festival. And, in true Brouwer’s fashion, one can always expect a few super special surprises on the menu that are not revealed prior to the event.
Beer Blotter will be preparing a guide to the fest that will help steer you in the direction of, what we feel to be, the brightest gems on the list. Look for that in a few days. In the meantime…the list:
- Alaskan Double Black
- Anacortes Black
- Anderson Valley Imperial
- Anthem Dry Hopped Cider
- Avery Maharaja
- Baron Dry Hopped Pils
- Big Al Dry Hopped
- Big Time Action Jackson
- Black Raven Dry Hopped Trickster
- Black Raven Wisdom Seeker
- Boundary Bay Imperial
- Diamond Knot Shipwreck XXX
- Dogfish Head Burton Baton
- Double Mt. Molten Lave
- Elysian Idiot Sauvin
- Elysian Orgone
- Firestone Walker Union Jack
- Green Flash Pallate Wrecker
- Hub Ace of Spades
- Hub Galactic Imperial Red
- Iron Horse Mystery Firkin
- Lagunitas Hop Stoopid
- Laughing Dog Devil Dog
- Lazy Boy Imperial
- Left Hand Twin Sisters Double
- Mad River Imperial
- Midnight Sun Hop Dog Double Wheat
- Midnight Sun Meltdown Double
- Midnight Sun XXX Black Double
- Mikeller Cascade
- Mikeller Centennial
- Mikeller Chinook
- Moylans Wet Hopsicle
- Naked City Impact
- New Belgium Belgo
- Ninkasi Maiden the Shade
- Oskar Blues Gubna
- Pike Dry Hopped Double
- Port Brewing 4th Anniversary
- Russian River Blind Pig
- Russian River Pliny the elder
- Schooner Exact Imperial
- Scuttlebutt Hoptopia
- Silver City Whoop Pass
- Snoqualmie Dry Hopped Copperhead
- Stone 14th Anniversary
- Two Beers Fresh Hop
So, its the end of the Summer. Dammit. If you live in Seattle, you are probably wondering whether it actually ever began. Plagued with bad weather through the warm months, most of us simply keep waiting for it.
But alas, the end of Summer brings positives. Namely – IPA. Typically, brewers start accessing hop crop and can begin dry-hopping their tasty hop bombs. This allows many to hold their hop festivals, serving the best in IPA grog.
Brouwers Cafe Hopfest
We are huge fans of Brouwers Cafe’s Hopfest, which goes down on September 10, 2010 at 11 AM. The festival will showcase some 60 IPAs on tap. It promises to be one of the best attended beer events in Seattle, each year.
Typically, Brouwers rounds up a keg of Pliny the Younger and Firestone Double Jack for the occasion. Lets hope it happens again.
Keep checking out their website for more details. A recent tweet was sent requesting that brewers start sending word to the bar whether or not they will be sending a beer for the festival. We should soon know what will be poured.
Yakima Fresh Hop Festival
The altar of hop might be the annual Fresh Hop Festival in the hop valley that is Yakima, Washington. Producing more than 70% of the hops used in American beer, makes Yakima the source for the freshest hops on the planet.
Each year, the Fresh Hop Festival puts about a dozen brewers to the test of producing a “fresh hop” ale, made with hops plucked from the vine less than 24 hours before they are placed in the kettle. In the past, Laughing Dog Brewing, Snipes Mountain Brewing and Iron Horse Brewing have put out favorites.
This festival is held October 3, 2010 from 5PM – 10PM in the heart of downtown Yakima. You can typically grab a hotel within blocks of the event for about $100.00, but you want to grab that soon. They book quickly.
Parkway Tavern’s IPA Festival
Finally, the Parkways Tavern IPA Fest is already taking shape. The event will be held at Parkway’s excellent pub in the historic area of Tacoma, on September 28-29.
Parkway sent out a preliminary list of beers today, which includes the following:
(some impressive choices are bolded)
- Anderson Valley Anniversary Imperial
- Avery Maharaja Imperial
- Bear Republic Racer 5
- Beer Valley Leafer Madness Double
- Big Time Bhagwan’s Best
- Big Time Scarlett Fire
- Black Raven Trickster
- Boulder Mojo
- Boundary Bay Imperial
- Diamond Knot
- Dick’s Imperial
- Dogfish Head 90 Minute
- Elysian Idiot Sauvin
- Everybody’s Brewing Goodwill
- Firestone Walker Union Jack
- Fremont Interurban
- Full Sail Spotless
- Georgetown Lucille Cask
- Great Divide Titan
- Green Flash West Coast
- Harmon Single Hop
- Hopwork’s Organic
- Hale’s Over the Hop
- Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’
- Laughing Dog Devil Dog Imperial
- Laurelwood Workhorse
- Left Hand 400lb Monkey
- Maritime Pacific Double Dry Hopped Imperial
- Midnight Sun Meltdown Double
- New Belgium Ranger
- Ninkasi Dry Hopped Tricerahops
- Northern Lights
- Oskar Blues Gubna Imperial
- Pike Double IPA
- Port Brewing Mongo
- Port Townsend Imperial (rarely seen)
- Schooner Exact Virgil Imperial Cask
- Scuttlebutt Hoptopia Double
- Southern Tier Randall
- Stone 14th Anniversary Emperial
- Stone Double Dry Hopped
- Two Beers Peach-Infused Summer Hop
- Victory Hop Wallop Randall
- Walking Man Homo Erectus
- Widmer Deadlift Imperial
Hope to see you all out for same IPA sipping this summer! Let us know if there are any other events coming up that bear mention here at Beer Blotter!
Enjoyed on 7/28/2010
Brewery: Nectar Ales
Location: Paso Robles, CA
Beer: Nectar IPA
Presentation: 12 oz. – Brown Glass Bottle – Capped
Style: American Style India Pale Ale
Hops: Bittering – Chinook
Late Kettle – Mt. Hood, Cascade
Whirlpool – Cascade
Dry Hop – Chinook, Centennial
Malt: Premium Two Row
White Wheat Malt
Commercial Description:Our IPA is created from a base of Pale and Crystal malts and is aggressively hopped throughout the brewing process with a final hop addition in the conditioning vessel. A beautiful flowery hop aroma will greet you as you dive into this hop lover’s dream. A middle caramel malt presence balances high hop bitterness with hop flavor end to end… learn to love hops!
Beer Advocate: B+
Rate Beer: 97 (3.63)
Nectar Ales is a label that falls under the Firestone Walker umbrella. It didn’t always. The three Nectar Ales beers were originally brewed by Humboldt Brewing Company of Arcada, CA, which was acquired by Firestone in ’05. I don’t know for sure if the recipe is the same as it was originally, but I do know that Firestone Walker is a mind-blowingly good brewery, and they sure as hell wouldn’t attach their name to anything sub-par.
I honestly can’t remember if I’ve ever had this beer before. Even though Firestone’s existence in WA is still fairly shiny and new, it seems like Union Jack and DBA are on tap and in bottles almost everywhere. That is not at all the case with Nectar. I would expect to see this IPA on at Brouwer’s Hop Fest, but that’s about the only expectation I have for its appearance on draft in the Seattle area. You know what? Maybe it’s just not all that exciting. I either don’t know or don’t recall. Let’s remedy that shall we?
The brew pours a pale amber color with a large white head of varying sized bubbles. With some time the head subsides but never fully dissipates. A good centimeter or two of white foam remains throughout my time with it. a respectable amount of lacing is found in various sections of the inside of the glass. Visually, the carbonation seems just about perfect, with little bubbles rising from the depths at regular intervals and building upon the white foam cap.
The scent is fantastic! Very floral to my senses. I am reminded of honeysuckles, which in turn reminds me of the house I grew up in. This is a very pleasant feeling. I get the impression that this beer isn’t all bitterness. The C-75 makes it’s presence known, and for that I am thankful. A more potent scent of candied hop flowers has been experienced before, but considering that this is a single IPA brewed year round, I’d say that the ratio is weighted in Nectar IPA’s favor. Very impressive!
The mouthfeel is a bit thin, and the carbonation that appeared hearty doesn’t seem to translate on the tongue.
The flavor is very pleasant. I could surely drink this in succession and be full of smiles. The hop element is juicy and matches the floral scent. Some herbal notes seem to fight through and lend a slight medicinal quality. Most of the bitterness is found in the aftertaste. Balance is definitely there, and that’s big for me – I need a little sweetness to combat the bitterness, and I’ve found it. There is a definite caramel glaze whisked into this one.
The aftertaste is the only place for improvement here. All of the bitterness seems to converge in this area, and most of the best flavor elements seem to wash away. It feels slightly watery in the end, which is sad because it starts off so well. This attribute could actually work in Nectar IPA’s favor because it begs you to take another hit and revel in that most succulent of opening experiences.
Well we now know, this isn’t a rare tap for a lack of worthiness. Most likely just a matter of supply (a major lack of) versus demand.
I’ve never really been fond of scoring beers. It’s all so subjective. I would most likely score the same beer two completely different ways on two different days. But…this column is all about growth, and with the outrageous quantity of hoppy beers on the market, I feel the need to assuage my desire to whittle them down to an elite few. Thus, I developed the following scoring system. This method just sort of came to me on a whim, so chances are it will evolve with time. The goal was to rate each beer on a 10 point scale. Some areas are weighted more heavily because I feel they are more important to the overall experience of enjoying a hop forward brew.
As I rate each category, I am generally thinking in terms of a letter grade (A through F, in comparison to the greatest and worst elements of all hoppy beers I’ve tried to this point) and then converting that into a score out of 100. I then multiply that score by the weight of the category. At least, that’s how it works tonight. Any suggestions for improvement would be appreciated.
Color/Head/Retention [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.93
Odor [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.88
Carbonation/Mouthfeel [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.80
Hop Flavor [maximum of 3.00 points possible]: 2.64
Malt Flavor/Balance [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.88
Finish/Aftertaste [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.76
Total [maximum of 10.00 points possible]: 8.89
Disclaimer: This was not a free sample, but I’d gladly accept any offers.